Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Energizing the Base

I have often scoffed at those who argue that politicians must energize their base.  I recall that when Sarah Palin was selected in 2008 as the GOP Republican candidate for Vice President, many explained this bewildering choice by commenting that this would energize the Conservative base in the party.

My reaction was to suggest that they reconsider this wisdom.   Would Conservatives vote for Obama if McCain had selected a liberal Republican as the running mate?  They would--as the alternative would not be palatable to them..  So, why pick a Conservative who could alienate those in the gray area who might otherwise be swayed. The answer came back: "well they need to energize the base."

After last night's debate and the resulting post debate discussion, I am reconsidering the stance I'd previously taken about the importance of energizing loyalists.  The October 4th debate which Mitt Romney--according to almost every indicator--won, had dispirited Obama loyalists.  These supporters would still vote Democratic as to vote Republican would be unthinkable, but the enthusiasm for their candidate ebbed.  I noticed the subdued reaction in several places, but most notably on the web.  Prior to last night, there was less political cyber cheering for the Democrat, fewer jabs at the opponent, fewer posts suggesting that it was essential to get the vote out.

Last night and this morning, however, the volume is back on.  It seems as if many deflated Democrats are now filled with an energy because of what they witnessed.  One might argue, "well these people are still going to vote for Obama and one vote remains only one vote energy or no energy.".

This is true, but discussion in support of a candidate can lather and create a contagious narrative which might influence those undecided.  There is a greater bounce to the step of Democrats this morning, and the Republican noise has been, to some extent, muted.
In the same way as Romney energized his base after October 4th, Obama energized his on the night of October 16th. As opposed to what I have thought previously, this may have an effect on momentum and the eventual success of the candidate.

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